Book Review - Lights Of Liverpool

by Ruth Hamilton (Pan McMillan) ISBN 9780330522250

Ruth Hamilton has written 25 novels and is one of North West England’s most popular writers, but maybe you have to be British and a lover of romance novels to appreciate that.

Of the 440 pages there was only one fragment I liked: Tess is depressed and has patched up her marriage after one conversation with her adulterous husband, which already I find a miracle and totally unbelievable. But what appealed to me was the eccentricity of Tess who is painting the carpet because she does not like the pattern.

The story is about three families and their lives in the sixties in Liverpool. We have Maureen and Tom, who take part in, and are witness of, a gang killing at their wedding. Tess and Don, who suffered from poverty in childhood and a war injury and have marriage troubles and Rosh who is mourning the death of her husband Phil, but is courted by her neighbour Roy.

Until halfway through the book, there is another voice, at the end of each chapter, which turns out to be the freakish psycho-killer. Genres are mixed up, viewpoints are switched and there is a lot of thinking and wondering. Not my kind of book. 

Pauline Vijverberg


Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

The Thousand Emperors

by Gray Gibson (Pan Macmillan) ISBN 978 0 230 74878 1

In the future Earth has been destroyed. Humanity now lives on its former colony worlds which are split in two.


After the split the human race began to change, or rather one side did. Now the worlds of the Coalition and the worlds of The Thousand Emperors are about to be brought back together. Can they accept the changes or will they be driven to war?


At the same time the murder of one of the “immortal Emperors” in charge of reunification starts an investigation that will reveal the true nature of what it means to be human.


I liked this book for its logical and terrifying depiction of the directions the human race is heading in. The story is a classic crime thriller set a couple of hundred years in the future. The science in this science fiction is underwhelming but it never feels like magic and that’s frankly the way it should be. It is also not obsessed with getting this just right. This leaves you feeling you are not just reading a series of descriptions and that there is a definite story in there.


Space-ships, lasers, clones and doomsday weapons. Classic stuff.


Christopher Dean


Join us on Facebook and Twitter for daily writing tips

To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, email

Take Me Home

by Tessa Cunningham (Pan MacMillan) R190 ISBN: 9780283071584


When Tessa visits her 95-year-old father in a care home, something so imperceptible happens that she almost misses it. As she takes his hand to say goodbye, he kisses her cheek and holds on to her hand a fraction too long. She sees the yearning in his eyes that he is too proud and too loving to express: ‘I’m scared, please take me home.’


This is how the story of Tessa, divorced, with a daughter at home and another one leaving for university, begins. She is struggling with life after recovering from breast cancer. The ordeal she has gone through with all the treatments made me understand even more what breast cancer really means in someone’s life.


Often, with memoirs, I cringe on the intimacies that people share, but this book is so well written and full of love that I felt inspired by her story. I can truly recommend it. There is a lot of wisdom in her father’s advice, when he said, ‘just deal with what you can and leave the rest for another time.’ Taking her father home was a remarkable thing to do and the book that came out of this experience is well worth it.


Pauline Vijverberg


Join us on Facebook and Twitter for daily writing tips

To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, email

What will survive

by Mark Gartside (Pan Macmillan) ISBN: 978 0 230 75989 3


There are not many novels that deal with single fathers or delve into parenthood from a male point of view.


What Will Survive tells the story of Graham, a lad from the wrong side of the tracks in Thatcher’s Britain, who meets posh girl Charlotte at a party. Although they don’t marry, she falls pregnant and they make a go of things.


When baby Michael is a year old, Charlotte dies tragically and Graham turns to alcohol to cope.


With the support of his family and friends, he manages to turn his life around as a successful account, and tackles the role of raising Michael alone, doing his best to protect, nurture and love the child.


However, as Michael becomes a teenager, things seem to come full circle. Michael becomes involved with a girl from a poorer part of town. She also has a violent ex-boyfriend who harasses Michael and, eventually, Graham himself until it looks as if another tragedy will unfold.


What Will Survive is a tearjerker in the Nicholas Sparks and David Nicholls mould. However, Gartside writes with a clear, direct and honest style that keeps the soapish plot believable and from straying into mawkish romance.


An intelligent, emotional novel for men and women.


Anthony Ehlers


Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - Writing courses for business, email

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for daily writing tips

Writers Write - Write to communicate